Friday, July 06, 2007

J Pop Offshoots

I recently spent a brief period obsessed with J Pop, that genre of Japanese pop music that is the result of Japanese assimilation/interpretation of American and European pop music. My obsession has wained simply because I found most of the music pretty boring.
Ultimately, I did discover a couple of artists I find extremely intriguing.
Color Filter probably does not qualify as J Pop - they seem too serious. But since I discovered them on a Japanese label website (Happiness Records) that featured several J Pop performers, I'm going to call them neo-j pop. Color Filter is led by nuclear physicist/multi instrumentalist Ryuji Tsuneyoshi. Vocals are by Yuki Nishimura. They have just released a new album in Japan called Blueberry. (Doesn't seem to be an American release scheduled, although their earlier albums were released on Darla.)
I am posting a track from their last album, called Silent Way.

Color Filter - Strange Day

Find out more about Color Filter at their website.
Purchase Silent Way at Pointy Records.

I found Sucrette via MySpace, and I don't know much about them (everything is in Japanese). I do know they have a fascinating take on French yeh-yeh pop. This song is from their new album, C'est Si Bon.

Sucrette - Sweet Magic

Check out Sucrette on MySpace
Purchase C'est Si Bon at Amazon Japan

Check out the Itunes Podcast called the JPopcast Show with DJ San Fran & Christine Miguel to hear more J Pop than you'll ever need.
I continue to be fascinated with J Pop's utterly uncritical embrace of other genres of pop music, so, if anyone has any J Pop suggestions for me, please email them. I'm very interested in learning more.

Middle of the road crap or rock classics?

In the early 90's I wasn't listenng to a lot of music, and what I was listening to was all over the map. A little bit of country, a little bit of shoegaze (even though I didn't know that was what it was called) a little bit of whatever was popular on MTV or on WNEW-FM, the New York progressive rock dinosaur radio station.
For me, it was a time of relearning how to listen to music, after a long period of not listening to much music at all.
The three songs I'm posting here are songs I listened to a lot during that period, and which I don't think I've listened to in over ten years. I'm posting them because I'm curious if they hold up.
When the Gin Blossoms released their first album, New Miserable Experience, it seemed like they could be the reincarnation of either Big Star or the Raspberries. Then the band fired their alcoholic guitar player, Doug Hopkins, (he later committed suicide) and they were never able to repeat the magic.
Del Amitri was a Scottish band, in some ways maybe a distant relative of Teenage Fanclub in their ability to come up with memorable melodies, but without the Fanclub's originality or willingness to take a risk.
Hothouse Flowers was another Scottish band. I liked the bigness, the anthem-like quality of their songs. I put "Isn't It Amazing" on a lot of mix tapes, because of its spiritual theme.
Gin Blossoms - Hey Jealousy
Del Amitri - Be My Downfall
Hothouse Flowers - Isn't It Amazing?
So, crap or classic? I can't tell. Each of these songs meant a great deal to me at a particular moment in my life, and I can't separate the songs from the emotional connections I still have with them. The one thing I will say is, none of them are as bad as Hootie and the Blowfish.

Here's a bonus:
Freedy Johnston - Bad Reputation